[Foundation-l] Politico: "Wikimedia foundation hires lobbyists on sopa, pipa"

Mike Godwin mnemonic at gmail.com
Mon Jan 23 00:16:48 UTC 2012

Theo10011 <de10011 at gmail.com> writes:

On Sun, Jan 22, 2012 at 3:32 PM, Theo10011 <de10011 at gmail.com> wrote:

> Am I wrong to assume, that lobbying involves approaching a registered,
> professional consulting/lobbying firm in Washington who in turn, refer the
> client to politicians and then facilitate meetings and discussions in
> private, client are expected to pay expenses and other fees incurred in the
> process, usually a pretty hefty sum.

Yes, you're wrong.

> Are those discussions and arrangements
> made in private, facilitated by lobbying firms, what is needed to get our
> voice heard?

No. It can be helpful to have an experienced Washington
government-relations specialist to facilitate meetings, and to advise
you on how to be effective, but the word "private" is inappropriate
here. (The very fact that Politico was able to publicize WMF's
engagement with such a specialist ought to be an indicator of this --
in the USA, especially for the last 40 years, there have been vastly
increased requirements for public reporting and accountability, both
for nonprofits and for traditional corporate lobbyists.) When I
represented the Center for Democracy and Technology or Public
Knowledge at the FCC or on Capitol Hill, for example, the first thing
I had to do when getting back from a meeting was write up a report of
whom I met and what was discussed. The reports became part of the
public record, and part of these nonprofits' public disclosures as

> You mentioned the protest, and how proud you were to have been associated
> with it, so were most of us. That was the right thing to do - open, direct
> and public. All of which this doesn't seem to be.

You'd be wrong about meetings with policymakers not being public.
They're required be law to be reported and accounted for. As I have
noted, many people have stereotypical notions about what it means
to "lobby" in Washington. Too many movies and TV, I imagine.

> Again, these might be stereotypes, but the general realities aren't that far
> off either.

Hugely far off, actually.

To compare: it's a little bit as if you took your understanding of
police work from watching American police action films. It's not wrong
to say that sometimes police rough people up, for example, but it
would be wrong to say that is the norm. Most police work is dull and
routine, and the sheer amount of paperwork an average policeman has to
do is so astounding that nobody ever even tries to depict it in film
or TV drama. You'd switch channels or walk out of the theater in boredom.

If you really think that (for example) the American Library
Association's Office for Information Technology Policy
(http://www.ala.org/offices/oitp) is having secret meetings with
senators and writing big checks, then the American entertainment
industry has done a huge disservice in educating people about all the
ways public policy can be shaped. Not that this should come as any

(I'd love it, of course, if the American Library Association were
capable of writing big checks, but that's another story.)


More information about the wikimedia-l mailing list